While living together is growing in all age groups, young people are clearly the leaders. And we have lots of young people around Austin. According to the 2010 census, the 18-34 age group constituted 22% of the U.S. population, and 25% of Texas population, it is a whopping 35% of Austin’s population. The majority of young adults in their 20s will live with a romantic partner at least once, and more than half of all marriages will be preceded by cohabitation. I use Austin demographic data as it is a little easier to come by but you can imagine Round Rock and the surrounding communities are similar.
Living together has never been more popular. Cohabitation in the United States has increased by more than 1,500 percent in the past half century. In 1960, about 450,000 unmarried couples lived together. According to the 2010 Census data, over 7.5 million unmarried couples live together (which translates into 15 million people). This is a 138% increase since 1990, and an increase in 13 % from 2009 alone. If you are part of an unmarried couple living together, it’s probably comforting to know that you are far from alone.
Not surprisingly, the proportion of adults who are married has plunged to record lows, Just 51 percent of all adults who are 18 and older are married, placing them on the brink of becoming a minority, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of census statistics to be released Wednesday. That represents a steep drop from 57 percent who were married in 2000. Even having children appears not to be sufficient as forty percent of unmarried households have children.
This shift reflects decades of evolving attitudes about the role of marriage in society and has been attributed to the sexual revolution, the availability of birth control, and in our current economy, sharing expenses. But when you talk to people in their 20s, you also hear about something else: living together as divorce prevention. This has not proven to be the case as we will discuss in a future blog.
While quality data on the success and longevity of cohabitation arrangements is sparse, we know that half of marriages end in divorce. Divorce is governed by a long-established series of laws and precedents. “Breaking up” is not and often just left to the vagaries of the particular judge you find yourself in front of. Consequently, if you are living together, you should, at the least, have a simple will to insure your partner (or whomever) gets your property should you die. You should consider a living together agreement regarding who owns what without which a stranger will decide should you disagree after the fact. If you have fathered a child, consider a paternity statement, protecting your parental rights.